There are many types of commercial properties available to those who work in the commercial real estate industry. Many people like to work in a specific area by working with only one or two types of commercial properties. They do this because they have expertise with that specific type of property.
Commercial properties differ more than in just their appearance and use. How you purchase, sell, operate, manage, evaluate, and price each property can be very different. Although there are some similarities, being an expert in one or two properties can greatly increase your ability to analyze good deals and maximize your profit potential. When you know the inside and out of the processes that take place with a certain type of property, know what hidden things to look for, and what mistakes to avoid, you are less likely to run into problems, and will generate positive, long lasting results.
Let’s look at the main commercial properties that you may already be involved with, or are thinking about moving into.
The first are office buildings, or office parks. The term office can be used to refer to floors, parts of floors, an entire building, or an entire office park with multiple buildings positioned in a community type setting. Office space is used for a variety of reasons. It can be used for actual offices for companies, or it can be used for places of business operations, or to meet a tenant’s specific functional and technical needs. An example of this would be an office building for medical purposes.
Office buildings can be segmented into three basic levels. The first is low rise, which has fewer than 7 stories above ground. A mid-rise has between 7 and 25 stories above ground. A high-rise has more than 25 stories above ground. These buildings are often rented by the square foot according to the total useable square feet available to the tenant.
The next type of commercial property is retail property. These are places of business where products and services are provided. There are many types of retail properties which include big boxes, outlet centers, strip centers, regional centers and power centers. Each of these has distinct characteristics that differentiate one from another. Business owners can better choose where they want to lease by identifying their product position, where the best location is, and the type of retail center that will best sell their products and services.
A big box is a large, free-standing building that is often much like a huge warehouse. They can often be found near major shopping centers and along major corridors. Companies such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target are all example of big boxes.
Outlet centers are usually located in tourist or rural locations, and the businesses there offer their products and services at a discount. Strip centers are consecutive narrow parcels that have a variety of stores. They are often found along main roads and commercial corridors.
Regional centers are characterized by an enclosed, inward orientation of the stores. A walkway or common area connects the stores that offer a variety of products and services. There is usually a large, common parking lot found along the perimeter of the regional center.
Power centers are areas of business where large retailers, including large discount centers lease out the buildings. Category killers can also be found here. These are companies that offer a large selection at low prices. Ross, Mervyns, and Kohl’s can all be found in power centers. Think of the one stop place to shop retail center, and you have a power center.
Any of these types of retail centers can be chosen areas of specialization for an investor, developer or builder. This gives them a competitive advantage in the commercial real estate industry because it is the only thing in which they concentrate their efforts. You can bet there is not one thing that can pass by these people when it comes to retail centers, and they know exactly how to maximize their resources.
Industrial and warehouse properties are the next category of commercial property where you will find freestanding properties, research and development, large manufacturing, as well as industrial park properties.
Freestanding industrial properties can vary greatly in construction type, design, and overall function. They stand alone, and are usually occupied by an end user, so the building is specific to a special purpose.
A research and development property is characterized by having office space and manufacturing on the premises. You can find them most often near universities, and close to other locations of professionals.
Industrial parks are large, planned developments that can be used for special scientific and technological use, or sophisticated communications uses. They have many buildings for mixed-purpose or a single purpose that are scattered in an often functional way.
Industrial buildings and warehouses are crucial to a city’s economic development, and cities often provide tax incentives when jobs are provided and new companies are brought to a city, especially to one experiencing rapid growth.
Multi-family property is another type of commercial property in which you can specialize. They offer huge opportunities to create value. A multi-family property is not considered a commercial property unless it is greater than 5 units. Duplexes and fourplexes are not considered commercial properties, though they can be a great investment. The larger the apartment complex, for example more than 100 units, the more money you will be able to return on investment. These multi-family units have living space, appliances and amenities. Multi-family units can range from low-end to luxury type units.
The last type of commercial property is raw land. Raw land is characterized by untouched land with no improvements such as utilities and roads. It can be the most difficult property to involve yourself with; however, it can return the greatest results.
Whichever property you decide to specialize in, only begin a new project in a new area with a person who has lots of experience. You can learn a lot from someone by using this strategy. It will give you a solid foundation to do the next project on your own. This partner or associate will help you to gain the experience and insight that may otherwise take you years to learn.
Bill Manassero is the founder/top dog at “The Old Dawg’s REI Network,” a blog, newsletter and podcast for seniors and retirees, that teaches the art of real estate investing. His personal real estate investing goal, which will be chronicled at olddawgsreinetwork.com, is to own/control 1,000 units/doors in the next 6 years. Prior to that, Bill and his family lived in Haiti for 11 years as missionaries serving orphaned, abandoned and at risk children.